Fallout: New Vegas - How Games Get Shotguns Wrong - Loadout

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From Doom's iconic super shotgun through to Gears of War, the shotgun is one of the most popular and versatile weapons in article games. It's a trusty firearm that packs a devastating punch, particularly in close quarters, but the gaming shotgun that we've come to know and love takes a fair few, shall we say, liberties from its real-world counterparts.

Shotguns in games have been vastly over-exaggerated, frequently granting players devastating one-hit kills at close ranges before becoming as useless as a chocolate teapot at a range of more than just a few dozen meters, which, suffice to say, is not exactly how they work in real life, so I've come here to the Royal Army Museum in the UK to chart the differences between a real shotgun and its article game counterpart.

In one form or another, the shotgun has been around for the better part of 300 years in the timeline of firearms. The shotgun is a concept that has stretched throughout a hefty part of history, and the idea of firing a multitude of shots from a single barrel actually predates the term shotgun. In reality, you'd simply stuff your firearm with a cluster of lead balls or shot, so the nickname, "shot gun," evolved as weapon technology advanced.

Fallout: New Vegas - battlefield shotgun

This nickname became the de facto moniker for this type of firearm. The earliest appearance of this name appears around the 19th century, but it's a name that has obviously stuck around throughout the history of the iconic weapon. The more conventional shotgun, the sort of through-line development from, if we go backwards from modern shotguns, 12 balls or whatever, in the 18th century, you'll see side-by-side double barrels of guns with flintlock mechanisms on them, and you load them with a flask of powder and a flask of shot of whatever size, so small, small shot for shooting birds, larger shot for shooting larger animals, simple as that, and you would build your load in the gun and you would have a sort of preferred recipe for doing that for shooting different types of game.

So a shotgun is literally just a gun that fires shots, but after a while it develops into this whole specialist world of firearms. In the real world, shotguns have grown into an incredibly versatile tool, being used for anything from recreational sports shooting and game hunting all the way through to military use.

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It became the go-to weapon for 1800 stagecoach guards warding off bandits and baddies trying to plunder their cargo or horses, eventually creating the term "riding shotgun." The shotgun then went through many periods of militarization, like within the First World War, where the Winchester model 1897 earned the nickname "trench sweeper" or simply "trench gun" for its effectiveness in trench warfare, resulting in an infamous point in history where its usage was promptly protested by the German central powers, calling its usage inhumane and prohibited by the law of war.

So shotguns are a massive family of firearms, obviously very diverse, and we've seen examples of all of these in article games and movies, But can you take us through each sort of shotgun? Starting from what's furthest away from me, there's the standard side-by-side double barrel shotgun that would be recognizable to someone from the 18th century.

Fallout: New Vegas - cod shotgun

They might wonder where the mechanism has gone. It's actually now hidden inside the same basic configuration as before, nice wooden stock. Also, breaking the barrels doesn't just open them up to load; it also shatters the thing. Then a bit of leverage, which by the way, is when people saw these off to do nefarious things, it becomes harder to load.

It's not as easy as games make it out to be, is it? And then we've got the Remington 870, the archetypal pump action shotgun of the 1950s, vintage pretty much, but it's still around today, still in production. But you know it has the advantage of manual operation, so you don't have to rely on a mechanism.

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The fact that this is both pump action and semi-automatic means that the pump action was for using those low power loads, but that's one of the another one of the things that games sort of dance around quite often, going one of two ways, and it's like, "No, this is a pump action shotgun." "This is a semi-automatic shotgun." I guess there's a spin-off of that hybrid mechanism, pump, not that many shotguns do pump or semi, that gives you this very blocky heavily vented forend that just makes it look way more sci-fi, and then one with a big internal is it a big interior revolving drum.

Yeah, of the striker, this thing is basically wound up so crank on the front literally. The funny wind-up mechanism doesn't play a song. It's an annoying no. I won't wind it all the way up. An interesting idea, but maybe not that practical again. It's one of those weapons that I think has its place in article games.

So ridiculously outweighs its life in the real world, over in the world of article games, shotguns exist on a huge spectrum, but rarely do the virtual versions match up to how these weapons are used and how they perform in reality. While in the real world, shotguns have been largely phased out, they are still an essential entry into any article game arsenal, one that taps into a specific gameplay style and allows huge swings in the balance of gameplay mechanics and variety of play.

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And yet, somewhere along the line, they have become so disconnected from their real-world counterparts. First of all, this can be distilled down to three main tropes for most versions of a article game: shotgun range, rate of fire, and power. Of course, the sweet spot of the virtual shotgun is in close quarters, with shots of extreme proximity resulting in a one-shot kill, in some more extreme cases, reducing enemies to an Egyptian mess.

Their rate of fire is also frequently tied to their shooting power. A good rule of thumb is that the faster a shotgun fires or the more shells it holds, the weaker it'll be. The classic double barrel is the peak of power with minimal shots, and rapid fire magazine fed shotguns make you work a little harder to add a kill to your scoreboard.

Fallout: New Vegas - firearms expert

That power has been seen countless times before in cinema, where we've seen cowboys and criminals alike thrown across rooms from a single exaggerated shot, but that sense of devastating force is very much tied to the identity of our article game shotguns, probably more than any other article game type of gun.

I think the shotgun has It's certainly been more of a parody, certainly in early first-person shooters, which then, of course, set the trend for later games. Doom 2, in particular, with the super shotgun. The idea that a shotgun is inherently a spread of shot, which is true, of course, but normally you design the gun or the choke on the end of the gun and the ammunition to create a certain size pattern at a certain distance, so in real life the shotgun is much more finessed than we have ever seen in fiction.

From DOOMs iconic Super Shotgun through to Gears of Wars Gnasher, the shotgun is one of the most popular and versatile weapons in video games - a trusty firearm that packs a devastating punch, particularly in close encounters. But the gaming shotgun that weve come to know and love takes a fair few liberties from its real world counterpart. In this episode of Loadout, Dave Jewitt visits the Royal Armouries to talk to Keeper of Firearms Artillery Jonathan Ferguson, to chart the vast differences between real shotguns and their gaming counterparts. You can check out more episodes of Loadout right here.
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